STMicroelectronics Contributes Microcontrollers to ‘Switchback’ Battlebot to Promote STEM

REV Robotics chose STMicroelectronics' STM32s because it was already familiar with the microcontrollers, making for faster adjustments.

Greg Needel, REV Robotics

The Switchback battlebot.
REV Robotics, which supports robot education and competitions, chose STMicroelectronics' STM32 microcontrollers for their durability and familiarity in its battlebot.

To meet the demand for roboticists, industry and academia have partnered for activities to encourage interest in technology careers. Semiconductor company STMicroelectronics this week said it is contributing multiple STM32 microcontrollers to the “Switchback” battlebot developed by REV Robotics.

“Robotics and the industrial market are key markets for ST, and our 10-year longevity assurance is a key differentiator – even if it might not be necessary for battlebots,” said Loris Valenti, vice president of microcontroller and digital products for the Americas Region at STMicroelectronics. “For us, even more exciting than watching REV Robotics and Switchback take on the latest and toughest battlebot competitors is the excitement and joy of seeing students develop and build their own robots, knowing that many of them may start or work at the next generation of robotics and industrial companies.”

“With the popularity of the STM32 and its extensive and powerful ecosystem, we love inspiring developers as they attack the full range of their design challenges by releasing their creativity,” he added.

REV Robotics relies on STMicroelectronics parts

Launched by two friends with a passion for robots, REV Robotics supports the competitive robotics market and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational programs. The Carrollton, Texas-based firm said its products are used by more than 10,000 schools across 190 countries. It has been named one of the top 100 fastest-growing privately held companies in North Texas in 2019 and 2020.

STM and REV Robotics battlebot

Switchback uses STM32 MCUs. Source: STMicroelectronics

REV Robotics said it is familiar with the STM32 microcontroller units (MCUs) in designing, building, and manufacturing robotics components for students. In addition to the battlebot, the company is using a range of ST sensors, motor drivers, and protection devices in its product kits.

“We started using the STM32 MCUs and other ST components in our products and our battlebots because of the breadth of the ST portfolio and the strength of the ecosystem,” said Greg Needel, co-founder and president of REV Robotics.

Geneva-based STMicroelectronics claimed that it has 46,000 makers who have mastered the semiconductor supply chain, as well as state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. The independent device manufacturer said it works with more than 100,000 customers and thousands of partners to design and build products that address business and sustainability needs.

ST added that its technologies enable smarter mobility, more efficient power and energy management, and the wide-scale deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technology. The company said it is committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2027.

Switchback girds for battle with STM32 MCUs

“The latest in a line of take-no-prisoners battlebots, Switchback builds on our long interest in robots and our experience in these entertaining – but serious – competitions to encourage the next generation of engineers, who can also use our parts and kits to develop the same passion and excitement for robotics that we have,” said Needel.

“The 250-pound battlebot, which uses a dual-motor drum spinner mounted on a fully ambidextrous arm, is designed for durability and serviceability – as well as to win robot battles by hitting opponent robots really, really hard and breaking them apart with the drum spinner,” said the companies.

The robot uses five heavy-duty electronic speed controllers with open-source firmware, implemented with STM32 MCUs. REV Robotics said it chose the controllers for their durability. The team's familiarity with the ST microcontrollers will also help it make firmware changes quickly, added the company.

On Switchback, the motors operate the left-side and right-side drivetrain, the ambidextrous arm, and the arm-mounted weapons.

Switchback will premiere in battle on the Discovery Channel on Jan. 6, 2022, and it will be on display in STMicroelectronics' private suite at CES 2022.

Description of the Switchback battlebot.

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Greg Needel, REV Robotics

The Switchback battlebot.

Robot Technologies